News Roundup: More Texas Democrats Are Calling For A Special Session On Gun Violence

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 6, 2019 2:10 pm

A growing number of Democratic Texas lawmakers are asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to address gun violence in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio sent a letter to Gov. Abbott on Sunday calling for a special session.

Since then, other Democrats have also backed the request.

That includes State Rep. Shawn Thierry of Houston. She previously called for a special session after the massing shooting at Santa Fe High School in May of 2018 that left 10 people dead. She says Texas is past due when it comes to addressing gun violence.

“It’s beyond late. Blood has been shed,” Rep. Thierry says. “Lives have been lost and there’s so much we could have done and that we still can do to prevent this.”

Thierry says she herself is a gun owner, but that there are ways to balance second amendment rights with public safety. And she says if state lawmakers don’t act to reduce gun violence, it will take a toll on the mental health of the general public – as “anxiety and stress [for] all the rest of us who are law-abiding citizens.”

State Rep. Thierry adds if Abbott does not call a special session, Democrats plan to make reducing gun violence a top priority when the Texas Legislature reconvenes in 2021.

Texas is closer to getting a hold of billions of dollars in federal funding to prepare housing in the state for future disasters.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced it will soon publish rules for disaster mitigation funds that Congress allocated in response to Harvey and the 2017 hurricane season.

The Texas General Land Office will be developing the state action plan for how the 4.3 billion dollars will be spent. Brittany Eck, their communications director for disaster recovery, says they can start that process once HUD publishes its rules.

“At this point we’re excited to hear that these rules are coming soon,” Eck says. “We are now in the 2019 hurricane season, we’re now actually three months in in August, so we’re looking at how do we best mitigate against potential damage from future storms.”

Eck adds this is the first time HUD is putting money toward mitigation – not just rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed during Harvey. She adds that “mitigation dollars will be used for those infrastructure projects that will protect housing and businesses and everything along the coast.”

Eck says it could take up to nine months to get a state action plan finished and approved by HUD.

North Texas Congressman Kenny Marchant is the fourth Texas Republican to say he won’t seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report tells KERA News some members of the GOP may see the writing on the wall ahead of the 2020 elections. “Democrats have the wind at their back and Republicans are facing headwinds,” Kronberg says.

The three other Republicans leaving Congress are Will Hurd of Helotes, Mike Conaway of Midland, and Pete Olson of Sugar Land.